Monday, December 31, 2007

PROFILE : Bastar handicrafts to enter global market

1 Jan, 2008, 1120 hrs IST, IANS

RAIPUR: After decades of neglect, traditional handicrafts from the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh such as those made of wood, terracotta and bell metal will now be globally marketed by the central government.

The move will also ensure that artisans benefit directly from it.

"The central government has entered into written agreements with hundreds of artisans along with four organisations involved in handicraft production for direct marketing of Chhattisgarh's famous traditional Bastar products," Jairam Ramesh, union minister of state for commerce, told media.

He said a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the central government, Bastar district panchayat and artisans, besides four artisans' organisations Sunday at Kondagaon in Bastar district, some 225 km south of capital Raipur.

"It's a historic MoU for setting up six rural business hubs (RBHs) in Bastar district, mainly around the Kondagaon area, the main production centre of Bastar handicrafts," the minister said.

The MoU for bell metal, terracotta and wooden handicrafts is a part of the RBH concept initiated by the ministry of Panchayati Raj.

The Bastar-based RBHs will be built on a public-private panchayat partnership model to utilise locally available resources and skills and provide sustainable employment opportunities to rural artisans through larger market access in domestic and export markets for exquisite Bastar hadicrafts, Ramesh said.

He said India's handicraft products, excluding carpets, touched $3.8 billion in fiscal 2006-07 but only Bastar handicrafts that had great potential to dominate the world market.

"About 20,000 artisans' families are involved in Bastar handicrafts. They produce wonderful pieces but their products hardly get access to domestic and global markets. Now with the agreement for setting up RBHs, Bastar will rule the domestic as well as global markets," Ramesh said.

He said the government would ensure that middlemen have no role in marketing of Bastar handicrafts and artisans' families should get the profits directly.

The minister said the insurgency hit Bastar district would get over the Maoist violence, as the RBHs would revolutionise the socio-economic set-up of the poverty-hit region

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